The Chinese telecoms gear maker gave CNET access to its headquarters in Shenzhen as well as an R&D facility in Shanghai as it works to counter the allegations of some U.S. lawmakers that it has ties to the Chinese government.
Huawei's expansive headquarters
Workers take a lunch break at Huawei's Shenzhen, China, campus. The giant telecommunications' equipment maker has grown quickly but is struggling to build its U.S. business, in large part because lawmakers have raised concerns about alleged ties to the Chinese government.
Much of the concern over Huawei stems from its founder, Ren Zhengfei, who started the company in 1987, after serving as an engineer in the People's Liberation Army. Some lawmakers worry that Ren still maintains close connects to the Chinese government.
Huawei has a workforce with an average age of 27. Unlike the stereotyped Chinese company, Huawei doesn't primarily manufacture goods; its highly educated employees create the routers, switches, and telecom gear that others vendors make.
As many companies in the telecommunications business are cutting back, Huawei is hiring, drawing workers from around the globe to its Shenzhen headquarters. The company offers a wide range of food at the cafeterias on its Shenzhen campus, including Indian food, Western cuisine and this Muslim canteen.
Huawei's testing lab, dubbed the White House by some employees, features state-of-the art equipment to simulate all sorts of conditions that its gear must tolerate before the company releases prototypes to manufacturing.
The test labs at Huawei's headquarters includes a thermal shock test chamber that can measure how the company's gear can handle rapid shifts in temperature. The company uses testing equipment that tests how prototypes cope with fire, ice and high altitude.
One of Huawei's first brushes with Western competition came in 2003, when Cisco sued it on charges of stealing patented source code. That first impression played into the stereotype of Chinese imitators. But Huawei is trying to burnish its image as an innovator. This 1-kilometer-long building is a research and development center in Shanghai, opened in 2010, where 10,000 employees work.
Huawei, which has made low-cost smartphones for wireless carriers, pushed into branded, premium devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January with the Ascend P1, an ultrathin smartphone. The following month, Huawei debuted the Ascend D Quad the fastest smartphone on the market.
Huawei created a showcase for its telepresence system, set up at the popular Haidiloa hot pot restaurant in Beijing and at this restaurant in Shanghai. Patrons can pay about $31 an hour at each restaurant to dine virtually with friends, family and colleagues at the other location.